The Rev. Robin Dease, a pastor and former district superintendent in the South Carolina Conference, has been elected as a bishop of The United Methodist Church’s Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference.
Delegates elected Dease, 54, on Nov. 3 at the jurisdiction’s meeting at Lake Junaluska, on the 25th ballot. She received 206 votes out of 343 valid ballots cast – exactly the number needed to be elected (60% of valid ballots).
Dease – who was nominated as a write-in on the first ballot on Nov. 2 – was the third bishop elected at the Nov. 2-4 meeting, following the Rev. Tom Berlin of the Virginia Conference and the Rev. Connie Shelton of the Mississippi Conference, both of whom were elected the day before.
“Whenever I had the opportunity to lead or to serve, I would run home to my parents…and they’d say, ‘Now, don’t go down there and make us ’shamed!’” Dease told delegates upon her election. “My commitment to you is: I will never make you ’shamed.”
Dease acknowledged the Rev. Ken Nelson, the endorsed nominee of the South Carolina Conference, as “my brother and my friend.” He was one of the first people Dease embraced when the final ballot was announced.
“The South Carolina Conference is deeply elated to elect a faithful and fruitful leader who will help lead our church into the future,” Nelson said. “We pray God’s blessings and promise our support along the way.”
Dease, who has served as senior pastor of St. Andrew By-The-Sea United Methodist Church in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, since 2021, also paid tribute to her late parents and her brothers and sisters.
“Most of my 13 siblings have joined the church triumphant, and those who are left physically cannot be here,” she told the delegates, “but you are my family.”
Dease was born in Brooklyn, New York. After moving to South Carolina, she graduated from Claflin University in Orangeburg in 1992. She earned a master of divinity degree and a doctor of ministry degree in stewardship from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.
She joined the South Carolina Conference in 1992, became a full-time local pastor in 1998 and was ordained an elder in 2001. She has served as pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church in Johns Island (1998-2008), John Wesley United Methodist Church in Greenville (2008-2012), and St. Andrew By-The-Sea United Methodist Church in Hilton Head (2021-present). She also has served as superintendent of the Hartsville District (2013-2021), and in 2012, was interim chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Claflin.
Her appointment as senior pastor at St. Andrew By-The-Sea made her the first African-American woman to serve as lead pastor of a historically white United Methodist church in South Carolina.
Dease has been involved in numerous denominational and conference boards and committees, and has been active in other organizations in the communities where she has served (Ministerial Alliance, Chamber of Commerce, United Way Faith Based Committee).
The Southeastern Jurisdiction’s delegates are an equal number of United Methodist clergy and laity, from the nine states forming the Southeastern Jurisdiction. The assignments of bishops in the Southeastern Jurisdiction for the next two years will be announced later this week. Dease’s term of service begins Jan. 1. In the United States, bishops are elected to serve for life.
O’Mara is the director of communications for the South Carolina Conference. Brodie is the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate.
Find all of UM News’s coverage of the 2022 episcopal elections of The United Methodist Church on our landing page.
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